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Five tips for successful telehealth implementation

Article-Five tips for successful telehealth implementation

KSA has made telehealth an integral part of its healthcare system.

Telehealth has rapidly evolved in recent years, with a variety of solutions flooding the healthcare market. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) made telehealth an integral part of its healthcare system, pursuing two major objectives: to make medical services more accessible and to give a chance to private organisations to find their place in the healthcare market. 

Still, many healthcare providers struggle with adopting and utilising telehealth solutions to their advantage. In order to benefit from a telehealth implementation, consider the tips from telehealth software developers with years of experience in the industry. 

Keep it simple 

Telehealth is a broad term, including various tools that can be united into one solution. Assess your organisation’s workflows to understand which systems you want to enhance with telehealth or determine which services you would like to add to a portfolio to determine what exactly you’re looking for in telehealth software. 

More isn’t always better. A large number of features crammed into one application, over-the-top designs, and unnecessary addition of complex technologies like AI or virtual reality negatively impact user experience and bloat the implementation budget. 

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For example, dermatological organisations often require a platform for exchanging high-resolution videos and images and remote patient monitoring devices because they can only provide quality care with a thorough visual examination. At the same time, primary care practitioners usually don’t need such technology and use conversational apps and chatbots. 

Know your patients’ needs 

Each country has a special healthcare landscape, its unique challenges and requirements. As Saudi Arabia’s telehealth market started growing mainly as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, a sufficient number of apps emerged to handle relevant patients' needs, e.g., vaccination schedules, primary care physician’s consultations, symptom tracking, travelling permits, etc. There are also a few wellness apps focused on improving population health by enabling people to track their vitals and understand the patterns of their bodies.  

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However, telehealth technologies haven't yet penetrated all the areas of the Saudi healthcare market. If you want to expand your service portfolio with telehealth, consider a high demand for telehealth services for cardiology, paediatric care, mental health, and chronic conditions management. 

Communicate with your personnel 

During the telehealth software implementation, including medical professionals in the process is paramount. Start by explaining the purpose of adopting new software. Medical professionals can be reluctant to accept changes to their workflows if they don’t see how they benefit them or their patients. Highlight the possibilities telehealth opens to improve the quality of care and working conditions. As doctors and nurses will use the solution on a daily basis, it is also vital to consider their feedback about the type of features and UI/UX design.  

Open communication between the medical and IT departments will ensure the smoother adoption of telehealth solutions. It also contributes to its practical usage after the implementation, along with sufficient training.  

Consider the infrastructure 

Telehealth solutions can’t exist in a vacuum. Before starting the telehealth adoption journey, evaluate your existing network, hardware, and software. For example, if the solution involves high-resolution video streaming, will your connectivity have enough capacity to handle it? Can you integrate other medical software with a new telehealth solution? If the answer is negative, don’t be quick to abandon the project.  

Including your infrastructure’s upgrade into the plan can benefit your organisation from multiple standpoints, even if it takes more time, effort, and costs. Software consultants can help determine the potential gains and downsides in situations involving multiple factors. 

Educate the patients 

For patient-facing telehealth solutions to positively impact patient outcomes and drive revenue for healthcare organisations, patients should be comfortable using them. The world population is ageing, which is also reflected in Saudi Arabia’s demographic. Hence, many patients are seniors not used to rapidly evolving technologies like telecare. Therefore, telehealth adopters should never skimp on educating their current and potential patients. Such efforts should pursue two main objectives: to inform patients about the app and its benefits and to teach them to use it properly.  

Many organisations delegate promotion and education solely to their administrative and marketing teams, judging that clinicians have too much on their plates already. Yet, people are more likely to trust their physicians, so medical personnel are the best ambassadors to persuade patients to try telehealth services and teach them how to use those apps properly. 

Summing up 

Studies prove that telemedicine improved patients’ experiences and health outcomes during the COVID pandemic in the KSA and has the potential to further benefit the Kingdom’s population. According to a Markets and Markets report, the telehealth market in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.5 per cent between 2022 and 2027. While experts don’t recommend making an investment decision based on this factor alone, it still shows the favourable state of the market at the moment. 

However, jumping on the bandwagon and developing or implementing new software without understanding your patients, personnel, and the regional healthcare landscape is never a good idea. Working closely with your clinicians, listening to your patients, and partnering with experienced telehealth consultants and implementation specialists will help you succeed in the telehealth adoption journey and get a quick return on investment.  

Sergey Ivanov is the Head of Healthcare Solutions Department at iTransition. 

This article appears in the latest issue of the Omnia Health Magazine, read more here

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